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Telegraph journalists told "check your research" after front page claims cyclists hit 52mph chasing London Strava segments... despite that being faster than Olympic track cyclists

"Clearly they've found a bad GPS glitched segment and taken that as hard fact": Newspaper ridiculed after reporting that London commuters are cycling to work faster than Tour de France sprinters...

"52mph in a 20 zone... Lycra lout cyclists are creating death traps all over Britain."

That is the news sat proudly atop The Telegraph newspaper's front page this morning, the promo for an in-depth analysis of Strava segments across London and the respective speeds reached to achieve their fastest times. However, as many people have since pointed out online, the speeds cited in lots of the paper's examples appear not to be the feat of unsuspecting cycle commuters who should really be ditching the suit and tie for a summer challenging Mark Cavendish at the Tour de France, but rather just the result of dodgy GPS data.

The feature centres around a segment on Chelsea Embankment, Tite St to Chelsea Bridge, where the Telegraph claims a cyclist (who probably "felt that was a commute well spent") had covered the 630-metre segment at 52mph (84km/h), evidence "cyclists are turning UK roads into death traps". 

What the feature does not appear to question or fact check is why a London cyclist on their way to work would be faster even than what six-time Olympic champion Sir Chris Hoy says was his fastest ever speed, 80km/h achieved on an optimal indoor velodrome in the keirin, a track cycling event where riders slipstream behind a derny to achieve faster speeds.

On another cited segment the newspaper alleges a cyclist smashed past Lambeth Bridge at 46mph (73km/h), hitting a max speed of 52mph, despite the average speed for their ride being 16mph (25km/h). A third claims a rider, whose power meter (a calibrated device giving an accurate measure of how much power a rider is putting through the pedals) reports he averaged 204w, but had taken the fastest time at a speed of 42mph (67km/h).

According to Bike Calculator, an 80kg cyclist riding a bike weighing eight kilogrammes (on a perfect summer's day with no wind) would have to hold 2,500w to ride the earlier Tite St to Chelsea Bridge segment at 52mph.

As one cyclist on social media responded to the article, "If you can ride through London at 52mph, please contact your local professional bicycling team. They may be interested in your skills."

Others pointed out the "GPS glitches" apparent in the segments used, Chas Pope telling the newspaper: "You might want to check your research on the cycling article you've splashed on your front page. Virtually all of the fast times on the Strava
segments you chose have GPS glitches".

Political reporter at The Guardian, Peter Walker, called the story "my absolute favourite anti-cycling news story of all time".

"But congrats, I suppose, to the Telegraph for opening a new (if entirely fictitious) front against cyclists: being able to travel at 52mph on the flat," he wrote on social media.

The story raises concerns about cyclists racing Strava segments putting pedestrians and other road users in danger, the story coming days after the ride-sharing app reminded the public that it already has a feature to flag segments as "hazardous", removing the leaderboard.

Strava was commenting to road.cc in light of calls from the Royal Parks to remove a segment in Regent's Park following the death of a pedestrian in a collision with a cyclist back in 2022. The rider involved will not face prosecution as the Metropolitan Police deemed there was "insufficient evidence for a real prospect of conviction".

The case, thrust into the spotlight since a recent coroner's inquest, reignited the discussion about cycling, the government now moving forward with introducing tougher legislation to prosecute cyclists who kill or injure through dangerous or careless cycling.

Commenting on the discussion around segments, Strava told us: "We are aware of the tragic cycling incident which occurred in London's Regent's Park in June 2022 and our condolences go to the victim's family.

"At Strava, safety of our active community and those around them is a priority, and we have community standards that note that 'sports happen in dynamic environments that we share with motorists, pedestrians, other people, equestrians, pets and wildlife'. Strava expects those in our community to 'prioritise everyone's safety and enjoyment of our shared resources and respect the law'. The behaviours related to this incident violate Strava's 'community standards'.

"At the end of last week, we received a request from Royal Parks to discuss the cycling route segment where the incident occurred. The ability to flag a cycling route segment as hazardous already exists in Strava. Anyone can report a segment that they would deem as hazardous. If segments are flagged as hazardous, achievements are not awarded for that segment and leaderboards are disabled. Any Strava community member who cycles on that same route segment will receive a warning of the hazards on that segment."

Dan is the road.cc news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined road.cc in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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109 comments

Avatar
TheBillder replied to bloodylazylayabout | 2 months ago
2 likes
bloodylazylayabout wrote:

52mph!! Sluggard. I once reached 134.9 mph according to my GPS. Even topped 80mph walking

Useless. I got a phone GPS app up to 1762 mph (I was in a car and heading to the Museum of Flight in East Lothian*). It just started to rise so I left it to see where it would stop. Might have gone higher but I got bored and wanted to look at aeroplanes instead.

*Well worth a visit, though last time I was there, the coffee and cakes were not up to cycling standards.

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brooksby | 2 months ago
9 likes
Quote:

"cyclists are turning UK roads into death traps"

I await the Torygraph giving one single solitary example of a motorist being killed while driving their car, when in collision with a cyclist 

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kingleo replied to brooksby | 2 months ago
8 likes

Or a big article about motorists driving very fast over the speed limit  with speed gun evidence - plenty to choose from every day

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simontm replied to brooksby | 2 months ago
3 likes
brooksby wrote:
Quote:

"cyclists are turning UK roads into death traps"

I await the Torygraph giving one single solitary example of a motorist being killed while driving their car, when in collision with a cyclist 

I did almost nut the driver as I flew through his windscreen on Chiswick High St?

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Surreyrider replied to brooksby | 2 months ago
2 likes

  Drivers have already turned roads into death traps.

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brooksby | 2 months ago
7 likes
Quote:

the newspaper alleges a cyclist smashed past Lambeth Bridge at 46mph (73km/h), hitting a max speed of 52mph, despite the average speed for their ride being 16mph (25km/h)

Was the cyclist perhaps hit by a speeding motor vehicle, and their GPS kept recording as they were flying through the air? surprise

(or, was the entire story entirely made up?)

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Jimnm replied to brooksby | 2 months ago
5 likes

It's not possible even for pros on the flat.  They can do 56mph down hill and maintain around 29 to 30 mph on the flat. typical anti cycling nazi news rag. 
 

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Hirsute replied to brooksby | 2 months ago
3 likes

GPS glitch as the power output of 101W is incompatible with the speed recorded.

Cav got to 47/48 mph in a TdF sprint. Pog acheived about 850W max according to summarised data released.

I have achieved 40mph somewhere around Kimmerage/Lulworth - a long downhill, straight. I was very relieved to have only found this after I started back up hill as I have no idea how I would have coped if I'd known at the time !

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Rendel Harris replied to Hirsute | 2 months ago
0 likes
Hirsute wrote:

 Pog acheived about 850W max according to summarised data released.

He maxxed at 880W on the Col de Peyresourde, but his maximum (disclosed) power output is 1253W at the Tokyo Olympics.

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Hirsute replied to Rendel Harris | 2 months ago
1 like

Ok thanks. I did try and find his max and the 850 came up.

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rct replied to brooksby | 2 months ago
2 likes

Mine did ~3000kph when I was hit whilst I was stopped in traffic.  Diver wasn't charged with anything, not even undo care.

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brooksby replied to rct | 2 months ago
0 likes

Sorry to hear that 

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kingleo | 2 months ago
8 likes

Berte Carr-Crashum at dimwit hall informs me that he has a splendid idea: all the thousands of cyclists who will now be sent to prison for life can be put to good use generating electricity for the nation on stationary bicycles - they will be allowed to use strava, the person who generates the most electricity in one hour will be presented with an extra dollop of porridge next morning at breakfast by the governor.

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Offwood | 2 months ago
7 likes

I'm actually surprised it's taken this long for Strava segments to be weaponised against cyclists as evidence of "racing".

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Nikolai | 2 months ago
8 likes

Unfortunately it was a rather persuasive article. "A falsehood has got halfway round the world before the truth has got its boots on!"

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Surreyrider replied to Nikolai | 2 months ago
7 likes

Even worse, that rag will have known that the readings were inaccurate and ignored it.

 

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FionaJJ replied to Surreyrider | 2 months ago
4 likes

I'd say anyone who has used Strava for any length of time will have experienced a similar glitch.

I've not managed it by bike, but I once managed to run to a location about half a mile from my route, up a great big hill, and back again in less than a minute.  I would have looked forward to their coverage of my world record breaking athleticism, but I also follow the Couch 2 5k Facebook page, so know I'm in no way unique with this occasional physics defying skill.

I'd be amazed if no-one involved in the feature was aware this was a thing.

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stonojnr replied to FionaJJ | 2 months ago
1 like

Im not sure about that, as the way they wrote about using a garmin device in one of their other deep dives into the topic, youd think they were still using quill and ink to write their articles on parchment.

technologically savvy they aint

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mattw replied to Nikolai | 2 months ago
5 likes

Persuasive for unthinking wazzocks.

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